AMHERST, Mass. – The interdepartmental program in film studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is presenting the 20th
annual Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival starting Feb. 6 and continuing through April 25.
This year’s festival focuses on the theme of “Continuities.” With weekly screenings and events at UMass Amherst and in the Five College area, the entertaining and provocative line-up headlines award-winning narrative features and documentaries from France, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Romania, Spain and the U.S.
Unless otherwise noted, all screenings are held in the Flavin Family Auditorium, 137 Isenberg School of Management at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday evenings.
The festival will host nine filmmakers, including three Five College alumni, who will attend discussions. There will also be several New England premieres and two screenings in the directors’ showcase. Also planned is “What’s European about European Cinema?,” a colloquium with Thomas Elsaesser and other renowned film scholars.
According to curator Catherine Portuges, “The festival focuses on productions that revisit the past and interrogate the present, with special attention to European productions that highlight cultural diversity.”
All films are accompanied by critical introductions by scholars and filmmakers and all events are free and open to the public.
The festival opens on Feb. 6 with Elza, Mariette Monpierre’s début feature about a young Parisian woman of Caribbean descent who returns to her native Guadeloupe in search of the father she has never known; the director will be present for discussion. On Feb. 13, director Mona Nicoara presents Our School, her documentary on Roma children in a Transylvanian village. The directors’ showcase pays tribute to two masters: on Feb. 20, with a new digital restoration of István Szabó’s Confidence, set in Budapest during the 1944 Nazi occupation of Hungary; and, on Feb. 27, in memory of legendary French film director Chris Marker, with a screening of two recently restored high-definition digital transfers: La Jetée, a tale of time travel in still images, and Sans Soleil, his great “essay film” on memory and the passage of time.
The New England premiere of The Wild Ones, Patricia Ferreira’s dramatic thriller about teenage friends in contemporary Spain, is set for March 6. The screening is co-sponsored by the Catalan Film Festival. On March 13, Italian director Andrea Segre presents Shun Li and the Poet, a portrayal of immigration in a small coastal town in the Veneto lagoon through the friendship between a Chinese woman and a fisherman from former Yugoslavia. On March 27, the festival hosts Emmy Award-winning visiting artist-in-residence Tim Rollins, who will present his documentary Kids of Survival, a chronicle of the director’s project teaching literature and the arts to students from the South Bronx, in collaboration with the University Museum of Contemporary Art’s Project “Du Bois in our Time.”
On April 3, the festival welcomes back Academy Award-winning UMass Amherst alumna Pamela Yates and Paco de Onis for a mini-residency to present and discuss their work in progress, Disruption, an exploration of feminism and human rights in Latin America. Dana Doron and Uriel Sinai’s Numbered captures the testimonies of Holocaust survivors and the meaning of the numbers tattooed on their bodies, screening on April 10 with Jerusalem E.R. At the Yiddish Book Center on April 17, co-sponsored by the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival and the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, Artemis Joukowsky presents his new documentary feature, Two Who Dared: The Sharps’ War, the story of his own grandparents who left Wellesley, Mass., to help rescue World War II refugees. The film screens with Yom Hashoah, James Young’s observation of Holocaust Remembrance Day filmed on the streets of Jerusalem.
The festival closes April 24 with a free screening at Amherst Cinema of Christian Petzold’s Barbara, a 2013 nominee for the Academy awards’ Best Foreign Language Film. The film is set in 1980s East Germany where a physician faces a decision between her desire for an exit visa and her love for a colleague. On April 25, renowned film scholar Thomas Elsaesser is the featured guest for the colloquium “What's European about European Cinema?” co-sponsored by the College of Humanities and Fine Arts Initiative for a Center for European Cinemas.
Major sponsors includeUMass Amherst’s College of Humanities and Fine Arts, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; UMass Arts Council, University Museum of Contemporary Art, CHFA Initiative for a Center for European Cinemas, and the Graduate School.
Additional support comes from Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival, 5th Catalan Film Festival and Institut Ramon Llull, Smith College, Yiddish Book Center, UMass Amherst’s Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, DEFA Film Library, Amherst Cinema and the Romanian Cultural Institute, New York.